So you have succeeded in searching and attracting candidates with all the right qualifications and traits that will enhance the organization and assure that the company has the necessary human assets to meet or exceed the competitive challenges that lie ahead in a highly competitive marketplace. Now it is time engage those human resources and move forward.
A truly engaged workforce ensures that employees are committed to their organization’s goals and values, are motivated to contribute to organizational success, and are able at the same time to enhance their own sense of well-being. Creating conditions in which employees offer more of their capability and potential, is critical for organizational success. Studies show that highly engaged organizations have lower absenteeism and turnover rates, lower health care costs, fewer safety incidents, and fewer quality control failures, or product defects. So if employee engagement is such an obviously good thing, why do so few companies successfully foster a culture of employee engagement?
Studies indicate that engaged employees are rare. According to Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace report only 30% of US employee’s feel that they are engaged at work. Jim Harter Ph.D., chief scientist at Gallup Research, says, “Many organizations measure either the wrong things, or too many things, or don’t make the data intuitively actionable. Many don’t make engagement a part of their overall strategy, or clarify why employee engagement is important, or provide quality education to help managers know what to do with the results, and in what order.”
Gallop researchers studied 49,928 work units, including nearly 1.4 million employees. The latest study confirms a well-established connection between employee engagement and key performance outcomes: Customer performance ratings; profitability; productivity; employee turnover; safety incidents; shrinkage (theft); absenteeism and performance quality. The Gallup researchers studied the differences in performance between engaged and actively disengaged work units and found that those scoring in the top half on employee engagement nearly doubled their odds of success compared with those in the bottom half. The researchers also found that a strong correlation between engagement and performance are highly consistent across different organizations from diverse industries and regions of the world.
An examination of multiple organizations across several different industries indicates that most successful engagement efforts utilize the three “A’s” strategy of engagement:
Affinity – A basic human need is to believe in something. Without affinity, or believing in a cause, workers will put their hands and feet to work but not their hearts and minds. Workers who don’t find affinity at work look for it at home or in the community. Organizations with engagement regularly outperform those without it. The sense that the organization needs better engagement usually comes from the realization that workers are less than enthusiastic about their jobs.
Affiliation –Just as with affinity, organizations that do not offer affiliation at work drive workers to find it outside of work. Many workers would pour their efforts into improvement projects if allowed and facilitated to do so. If they find no affiliation at work, they look for it in church, community or charity. The need for affiliation is strong and workers will find something to give them a sense of belonging.
Autonomy – W. Edwards Deming said, “People support what they help create.” Giving workers participation opportunities gives them a feeling of belonging. Allowing them to help create those opportunities for participation gives them pride, ownership and a deep sense of fulfillment that motivates their creativity.
The most highly successful engagement projects make strategic and synergistic use of all three “A’s”. Organizations whose employees strongly believe, firmly belong and creatively contribute to improvement efforts have an operational advantage that cannot be easily offset by any other competitive element.